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Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City
Radio City is going to focus on being there for its employees through these turbulent times.
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Radio City’s social media reach grew by 280% during lockdown; it is now offering bouquet on-air and online offerings to woo advertisers

Radio City is going to focus on being there for its employees through these turbulent times.
  • Radio was impacted adversely after the lockdown when ad spends took a plunge.
  • However, Radio City is trying to come up with innovative solutions for its clients and listeners.
  • We caught up with Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City to understand how the station is navigating through the macro and micro challenges and using digital mediums to reach out to its consumers.
As with almost all traditional media businesses, ad revenues on radio stations took a nosedive due to the pandemic-induced lockdown. Radio companies started piggybacking on digital services to weather the storm and Radio City, one of the leading stations, went all out to come up with solutions to soften the blow.

It launched innovative campaigns like Concert From Home, Corona Fighters ko Salaam, Radio City Bazaar, released an anthem ‘Ghar Se Na Niklenge’ to encourage people to stay at home and tied up with Spotify to provide more than 1400 episodes of 16 audio IPs, to their global user base. It also started airing positive angles for otherwise bleak situations, in a bid to keep its audiences motivated.

As a result, Radio City found its social media reach growing by 280% in the last few months.

Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City said the channel’s focus on generating integrated, innovative, and great multimedia propositions has also proven to be helpful in attracting advertisers from various sectors and markets.

Sharing how the demand from advertisers is slowly coming back, Kukian said, “We saw a substantial reduction in the beginning, similar to what other mediums faced, mainly because the pandemic has caused most sectors to face business and operational difficulties. However, we also witnessed keenness from various brands to utilise the power of radio to maximise their reach even in these unprecedented times. We realised advertising revenues were coming in from healthcare and pharmaceutical brands, owing to health and hygiene becoming a key priority, from local, small market retailers, from the FMCG and real estate sectors, and also from some larger insurance players. We also started offering a bouquet of on-air and digital offerings to advertisers, along with leveraging our RJs and their reach to provide solutions to brands. This resulted in a further spike in advertising revenues.”

The Radio industry is bouncing back

The radio industry is seeing early signs of recovery. It saw an increase in listenership during the lockdown, with 82% people tuning in to the medium, according to the latest AZ Research PPL report. Radio’s user base has increased from the pre-lockdown 48 million to 51 million people. Its home listenership also increased by 22% and has grown from 64% to 86%, and the time that people spend listening to the radio has increased by 23% to 2.36 hours every day. Recent RAM and TAM Adex data reflected a spike in women and men listenership resulting in high growth in both men and women-oriented advertising.

Kukian wasn’t surprised with these numbers and demographic changes. He said, “It is indeed a great opportunity for radio to further tap into these demographics to gain advertisers' interest. This has definitely been an encouraging development which helped us put pedal to the metal when it comes to our business plans.”

“These numbers clearly showcase that most of our audience has stood by us even during this pandemic and will continue to do so. Also, radio’s ubiquity, hyperlocal nature, timelessness, and ability to entertain as well as create awareness on issues of local and national importance, ensures that we will be one of the few businesses to come out of the woods faster than the others. Radio was also voted as the second most credible medium out of all in that same A-Z Research PPL Report. Additionally, our various initiatives which we started during the lockdown have been successful so far, with some great audience engagement,” added Kukian.

Changes in user behavior

In the event of several apps and Chinese companies being banned, the ‘vocal for the local’ mindset has now been adopted by consumers, with the interest shifting towards locally produced or manufactured goods.

After seeing this behavioural change, Radio City launched Radio City Bazaar, a movement to give a boost to local businesses.

“We’ve seen some great responses come in for our novel initiative of Radio City Bazaar, through which we have been putting the limelight onto industrious homegrown businesses and giving them a credible platform to build awareness about their business propositions. We wanted to ensure we are all vocal for local and turn the spotlight onto industrious homegrown businesses to give them a credible platform to build awareness about their business propositions,” said Kukian.

Apart from that, Kukian said the consumers’ mindset has also changed due to the pandemic.

He elaborated, “The pandemic has definitely brought about a change in the consumers’ mindset. With social distancing becoming the norm, digital consumption has spiked with people shopping online, virtual classes becoming the order of the day, and e-wallet companies having a larger play in the economy. Also, consumers are not interested in being sold to right now; they are being extra judicious in who they place their trust in, and are only going for brands who have managed to highlight their ability to understand consumer needs and offer solutions for those needs in a proactive and responsible manner.”

Focus this year

After the lockdown was announced, transitioning from an all-studio set-up to work-from-home wasn’t easy. Radio City had to ensure that all its employees had the necessary infrastructure support and were digitally enabled to continue their work seamlessly, including being able to access the company software and systems put in place for on-boarding and servicing clients.

So, amongst a few other key areas, Radio City is going to focus on being there for its employees through these turbulent times.

“Our focus this year is three-fold. One, to keep our audience entertained, informed, and engaged. Two, to keep our advertisers’ interests alive, and give them innovative options to engage with their consumers and three, to ensure our employees are taken care of and hand hold them in these tough times,” said Kukian.